Health Guide
Drug Guide

Chlorhexidine (Topical application route)

Pronunciation:

klor-HEX-i-deen

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Classifications:

Therapeutic

Antibacterial Cleansing Agent

Uses of This Medicine:

Chlorhexidine belongs to a group of medicines called antiseptic antibacterial agents. It is used to clean the skin after an injury, before surgery, or before an injection. Chlorhexidine is also used to clean the hands before a procedure. It works by killing or preventing the growth of bacteria on the skin.

Before Using This Medicine:

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Children

Because of chlorhexidine's potential for causing excessive skin irritation and the risk of increased absorption through the skin, use in children less than 2 months of age is not recommended.

Older adults

No information is available on the relationship of age to the effects of chlorhexidine in geriatric patients.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

Some of the chlorhexidine products will be used in a hospital or clinic setting. The medicine will be applied by a nurse or other trained health professional.

You may be instructed to use this medicine at home. It is very important that you use this medicine only as directed by your doctor. Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To do so may cause irritation of the skin.

Different forms of the medicine are used in different ways. Be sure you understand the directions for the product you are given before you use it. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Follow your doctor's instructions about how to clean and care for your skin before and after you use this medicine. Make sure you understand all of the directions, and ask questions if you find something is not clear.

Chlorhexidine should only be used on the skin. Do not swallow it or get it in the eyes, ears, mouth, or nose. Do not use it on the genital area (sex organs) or anal area. If it does get on these areas, rinse it off right away.

Dosing

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Storage

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

The Chloraprep® and Hibistat® products contain large amounts of alcohol (70%) and are flammable. Do not store them near a flame, heater, or electrical device.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

Check with your doctor if your skin problem becomes worse. Call your doctor if you have skin irritation that does not go away, such as redness, itching, or burning in the area where you used this medicine.

This medicine should not be used for an extended period of time on large areas of the body. Follow your doctor's instructions about how long to use this medicine.

This medicine may cause serious and permanent injury when placed in the eyes, ears, or mouth. Carefully follow all instructions before using this medicine to prevent serious side effects.

This medicine may cause a brown stain on clothing when chlorine is also present. These stains may not be removed by regular washing. Use only non-chlorine products to wash or bleach fabrics exposed to this medicine. If the medicine has directions on the package about washing fabrics, follow them carefully.

The Chloraprep® and Hibistat® products contain large amounts of alcohol (70%) and are flammable. Do not use them or store them near a flame, heater, or electrical device. Do not use the medicine while you are smoking. Apply the medicine in a well-ventilated place.

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

Incidence not known
Blistering, burning, itching, peeling, skin rash, redness, swelling, or other signs of irritation on the skin
swelling of the face, hands, or feet
trouble breathing

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Last Updated: 10/12/2016

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